Prime-time programs on basic cable in 2001 were far raunchier than prime-time programs aired on broadcast networks in 1999, the Parents Television Council has found. In a study released Monday (Jan. 28), the council reported that the rate of sexual content on the analyzed cable programs in 2001 was equal to the broadcast rate in the fall of 1999--3.6 instances per hour.

But the findings in the foul language and violence categories on cable in 2001 (13.3 instances of foul language per hour and 4.7 cases of violence per hour) were much more frequent than on the broadcast shows in 1999 (5.0 instances of foul language per hour and 1.3 cases of violence per hour).

Overall, the combined rate of sexual references, use of coarse language and instances of violence totaled 21.7 instances per hour on basic cable, compared to 9.8 instances on broadcast networks. (Some of the figures may have been rounded.) The fall 1999 broadcast network figures were the most recent compiled by the council.

Comedy Central's "South Park" was cited as the worst series, with a combined average of 126 offensive instances per hour. Two shows on MTV, "Undergrads" (73.2) and "Celebrity Deathmatch" (66), were second and third.

"The study clearly reveals that the cable industry is eclipsing the broadcast networks' ability to crank out offensive programming in prime time," said L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the Parents Television Council, which promotes responsible entertainment. "The PTC will continue to loudly voice the concerns of our more than 700,000 members to the sponsors, cable networks and local cable systems that support exceedingly offensive and vulgar material."

Analysts for the council reviewed 33 basic-cable series, amounting to more than 100 hours of programming, that were broadcast in the spring and summer of 2001.

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